Sometimes greatness attracts greatness, and this is a prime an example. International Producer and Songwriter TheUse, a.k.a. Michael Durek, teams up with worldwide audio/visual artist Rachel Mason to “call back the souls that they’ve lost” in the form of “On My Deathbed”, an audio post-modern composition set to the English translation of poetry by Xu Lizhi. Some may remember Xu Lizhi as the FoxConn employee in China who jumped to his death, after which his friends published a collection of his poems. One of those poems was “On My Deathbed” (我弥留之际). The lyrics are a heartwrenching account into the mind of a beautiful soul longing for a life he can never have and how much that breaks his heart. Rachel’s vocal style really gives weight to the words as TheUse gives score for the meaning. This is a song with a purpose and that purpose should not be ignored. Simply beautiful.
Aagoo Records has announced they will release a 7″ single from producer/composer TheUse, the solo project of Michael Durek. The lead track ‘On My Deathbed’ is a dark but upbeat composition. Renowned artist Rachel Mason lends haunting vocals set to the English translation of poetry by Xu Lizhi, the FoxConn worker from China who jumped to his death, leaving behind a secret archive of poetry, underlining the hardships and despair faced by Chinee migrant workers. His powerful words are part of the global wake-up call about the hazards of the electronics industry and his story has made international news, underlined by TIME Magazine’s infamous ‘The Poet Who Died For Your Phone’.
This song will feature in the documentary ‘Who Pays The Price? The Human Cost of Electronics’. Four years in the making with 1.2 million YouTube trailer views, this focuses on a Chinese activist with leukemia who is helping young workers poisoned on electronics assembly lines. Heather White, the film’s director, says “Xu Lizhi’s poems underline the alienation and despair felt by those trapped in a dead-end existence, where work is the only measure of one’s daily experience.”
“When Rachel brought Xu Lizhi’s words to my instrumental track, it just felt right, and the melody she wrote is gorgeous. I just wanted to cry right there in the studio when she tracked it. The poem by itself is really sad, but through this music, it becomes powerful and transcendent,” says Michael Durek.
Rachel Mason said: “Xu Lizhi’s poetry just really sung themselves to me, and miraculously matched the songs that Michael was crafting. Some poems just seem to have a melody built into them and you can hear it.” An adept lyricist herself, Mason has previously set the words of political dictators to music and collaborated with artists such as Josephine Foster, to imagine the minds of political leaders in her two albums ‘The Ambassadors’.
The video for this focuses on the Occupy Wall Street protests, underlining the global disconnect between haves and have-nots. A dancing spirit-like character internalizes the protest sentiment, representing the restless human soul’s need to escape.
The flip side is ‘Journey to Truth feat. Black Saturn and Charvak R. Jagtap’. Black Saturn provides lyrics that mention divine intervention, question historical facts, and are full of flowery imagery. A bright upbeat piano sound is surrounded by organic pulsing synths, shifting drum breaks, and a heavy 4/4 beat. Charvak R. Jagtap, a classical tabla player based in Thane, India, adds a psychedelic eastern percussion vibe to the mix. The music combines Black Saturn’s word-poetry and Charvak’s authentic tabla with the signature theremin, keyboards, and production of TheUse.
Michael Durek says: “Ned Jackson aka Black Saturn is a fountain of lyrical ideas, and you can tell he speaks of things he really thinks about on a personal level – he puts it all out there. I was moved to tears when I first heard his track ‘Minor Affliction’. He’s one of my favorite folks to work with. He has a special gift of being inspirational without being cheesy or cliche.”
TheUse is recognized for his soulful theremin playing and imaginative, moody electronic productions. His music incorporates elements of techno, classical, jazz, hip-hop, electro, industrial, and even psych pop, making use of custom instruments, recorded samples, and theremin. Recent coverage includes the ‘Symantix’ premiere in The Wire Magazine and also Huffington Post. He has toured through Europe, the USA and Canada and his production or playing is featured on over 40 albums. TheUse has produced an official remix for Cibo Matto and, among others, has collaborated with Danny Chavis of The Veldt, Sam Hillmer of Zs, and Jeanann Dara, who has performed with Bjork on numerous occasions.
The ‘On My Deathbed’ single will be released on 7″ vinyl via New Jersey-based Aagoo Records, who has also released vinyl from Xiu Xiu, Lucky Dragons, Philippe Petit and more. This record was mastered by Philippe Gerber at All Real Sound, with cover art by Bas Mantel. Net profits from ‘On My Deathbed’ will be donated to China Labor Watch, a 501(c)(3) organization based in New York City that works to improve labor conditions in China. The singles and 7″ vinyl can be ordered HERE.